Left to Pass… Please

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Lane courtesy – moving over to allow faster-moving traffic to get by – is a wonderful concept. But I’d take it a step farther: If you’re not passing, you should not be in the left lane at all.

That, at any rate, is the way it’s done in Germany – and for good reason. That reason being something called closing speed. If a Porsche turbo doing 140 comes up on a Fiat doing 80, the Porsche either better have excellent brakes (and its driver superior reflexes) or the Fiat driver had better notice the headlights getting much larger, much faster in his rearview – and get the hell out of the way in time.

To avoid such dangerous conflicts, German drivers are taught to use the passing lane only to pass – and not to set the cruise control and zone out, like so many American drivers unfortunately do.

That’s why the Germans can have unlimited speed Autobahns – and why we can’t.

Or rather, don’t.

We could have them. At least, from a technical point of view.

Our Interstate system was modeled on the German Autobahn and could safely support much higher speeds than are currently permitted. Even the national high of 80 MPH in a few areas of Texas is absurd when put into context. That context being, the designed-for speeds of the U.S. Interstate system – updated to reflect the advances in vehicle design over the past 60 years.

The starting point is 70 MPH. That is the average, routine speed of traffic envisioned by the Interstate system’s designers. Curves, lines-of-sight, merge areas and so on were laid out on that assumption. That most cars would be toodling along at about 70 MPH.

Implicit in this is that maximum safe speeds were higher.

Pre-PC, a “speed limit” was precisely that: The maximum safe speed for the typical driver in the typical car on a given stretch of road. A speed limit was not supposed to be synonymous with average, cruising along speeds – as they are today.

At any rate, the point is that 60 years ago – when the typical car was a plodding behemoth with balloon whitewalls, drum brakes, a farm tractor suspension and nothing in the way of electronic safety systems – the engineers who laid out the Interstate system deemed 70 MPH average speeds well within the design parameters of the road – and of the cars of the era.

We’ve only recently seen speed limits go back up to about what was recommended – and posted – 60 years ago.

When you factor in the galloping advances in everything from tire design to high-capacity four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS and passenger cabins built to withstand impacts better than the race cars of the not-to-distant past  – well, 70 (even 80) seems awfully slow.

If a 1960 Chrysler was deemed capable of safe operation at 70 then surely a 2012 Chrysler can handle 80 or 90 just as safely. Probably, in fact the 2012 Chrysler is a whole lot safer at 80 or 90 than the 1960 Chrysler was at 70.  Anyone who has driven examples of both (as I have) knows this automatically. Just for some perspective, a 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT-8 can haul itself down to a complete stop from 60 mph in 120 feet. I could not dig up a stat for the 1960 Chrysler, but depend on it, that car took many more feet (yards, actually) to stop. That’s if you didn’t lock up the brakes – and skid into a telephone pole.

Yet – again – cars of the mid-late ’50s and ’60s, which were crap compared with any modern car – including the lowliest 2012 model year economy car – were regarded as being capable of comfortably, routinely, handling 70. But we’re told modern cars can’t handle 80 or 90. And that even 70-ish is pushing it. (In fact, in many states, driving 80 MPH or faster is statutory “reckless driving.” Really.)

Well, actually, it’s modern drivers that can’t handle 80 or 90.

Modern drivers who don’t use their mirrors – or do, but just don’t care (and absolutely won’t move over). Who consider it their American Idol watching, Football-worshipping, god-given right to park their car in the left lane, set the cruise control at precisely the posted speed limit – and ignore whatever’s going on behind them.

Thus, we have the problem of speed variance.

It’s not so much that some cars are traveling at higher rates of speed; that isn’t a problem if people maintain lane discipline – and pay attention. If slower-moving drivers scan their mirrors and anticipate the need to move over – and do so – before the overtaking car is forced to jam on his brakes. Speed variance only becomes a problem when slower-moving drivers refuse to yield, or wait until an overtaking car is right behind them before they even put on their signal – causing faster-moving traffic to decelerate suddenly or take evasive action to get around the slow-mover.

Cars bunching up and up jockeying for position is what creates the safety hazard; not some cars moving at a higher rate of speed than others.

If the left lane was understood to be for passing only; if American drivers could be taught to reflexively defer to overtaking traffic rather than viewing such as a threat to their personal space and doing all in their power to impede it – well, then our speed limits could be real limits and we could drive faster, legally,  in 2012 than people did back in 1960.

Don’t look for it to happen anytime soon.

Throw it in the Woods?


  1. I’ve just discovered your blog and am enjoying it (but for a few detail disagreements).

    You do not mention the true reason for keeping to the correct lane. Most people presume that it is for the sake of people behind you, so that they may waft past unimpeded. It is, in fact, for the sake of people ahead of you.

    Hovering on someone’s left flank, you are effectively claiming an indefinite option to overtake that person imminently, an option you can exercise, or not, as long as you hold that position. You are thereby effectively pinning the other person in their position. If that person approaches a slow-moving vehicle in the right lane, they must either reduce speed to let you pass, or positively outrun you. Either way, their attention is split between the slow-moving vehicle and the looming obstacle on their left flank.

    Approaching a vehicle you intend to overtake from directly behind conversely gives everyone a fair opportunity to overtake slow-moving vehicles. The rule ought to be first-come-first-serve, i.e. the person nearest the slow-moving vehicle has first option to overtake – but this requires signalling one’s intention to overtake in good time. I like to give at least five flashes, and then I regard it extremely bad form to overtake someone who is thus giving ample notice of their intention to overtake. I call it “driving over their signal”; it’s not done.

  2. I am on the NJ turnpike often. Its fun watching all the traffic lined up on the fast lane. The center lane is used for passing them on the right, and the slow lane, where i am almost always, is the fast lane, passing everyone. Its exactly the opposite of the way it should be! Is is dangerous to be sure, these drivers are not looking around before they change lanes.

    I used to flash my lights, get all hot and bothered be these folks – there are lots of them, in fact, almost all of the drivers are doing it, now i just move over, pass, and get on with it.

    I don’t care, just as long as the state troopers do not start giving tickets for passing on the right.

    • Mike I couldn’t agree more. I take the NJTPK from 8 to 15 a few days a week to NJIT and at first I used to pass on the right and just go around the a-holes clogging up the left lane but now I just terrorize the drivers who don’t get over. It’s alot less stressful and my hope is that one of these degenerates will go home and tell their friends “some jerk was tailgating me and flashing his highbeams and honking his horn at me while I was in the left lane,” and hopefully one of their friends will reply with “maybe you should have gotten the f*ck out of their way.” Maybe I have too much hope in people. After all, ass-hats usually socialize with other ass-hats.

  3. I was going to add, I went to Europe twice this year, drove 8,000km in four countries, including Germany a number of times and it’s immediately after bi-annual trips like this that I see the stark difference in driving skills after getting back to Canada and seeing how people drive here.

  4. I’m a Canadian and I’ve driven about 40,000km in Europe over the last 10 years or so in 12 trips to 15 countries and a couple of thousand kilometers at speeds up to around 250km/h (150mph) in busy traffic in Germany and I’d ***never*** remove the speed limits in Canada and the US, from what I’ve seen driving in the US.

    In general, in Europe it is difficult to get a driver’s license. My wife had to do 50 hours of night school before she could get in a car to train in a parking lot.

    Europeans, in western and central Europe at least, are much better trained, less likely to have an ego and are predictable, as is expected from well trained drivers.

    The only time I’ve been in danger at full speed in Germany was when Americans were around (American license plates, Chevy station wagons, etc., stupid American soldiers) getting in the fast lane, predictably unpredictable, as expected from Oklahoma rednecks (the license plate on the Chevy), in addition to other cars with American plates.

    During one trip my sister remarked how everyone got out of the way without us having to slow down (regular mirror checking), nobody’s ego was hurt by letting someone pass by.

    When the speed variance between lanes can be 100km/h the drivers better be mature and competent.

    A co-worker just got back from Moscow and was very surprised that off all people Moscovites driving 4 cars abreast in 3 marked lanes would let others through snaking through the lanes without question.

    I didn’t think Muscovites would be more mature drivers than Canadians and Americans in general, though that’s over generalizing, but true from what I’ve seen.

    Eric, I’m surprised, the Germans are INDEED that different from you Americans, especially as drivers. These are not petty people, at least when in comes to driving. From what I’ve seen, they will only get irritated at stupid, incompetent tourists (me initially).

    From what I’ve seen, Canadian and American drivers are a bunch of childish boors, in the cities at least

  5. Just to clarify things: Germany requires drivers to keep right except to pass even on Autobahnen with more than two lanes of travel. This means: On three or four lane Autobahnen, drivers are required to keep in the furthermost right lane unless overtaking. Violating this rule subjects one to fines and points on his license. Those who do not abide by this rule are mostly tourists or US Soldiers/Personel. It is quite common for Germans (particularly on Sunday when trucks are banned) to go from the right lane of a Three Lane Autobahn, to the middle lane and then to the left lane, pass a Dickweed who is driving in the middle lane and then cut across the middle lane in front of said Dickweed and go into the right lane again. Those Middle Lane clowns who don’t seem to understand the message are generally from Countries with strictly enforced Walking Speeds such as US/Canada, Britain, Spain, etc. It seems they are used to driving half-asleep.
    Also, it is illegal in Germany to flash your lights or drive with your left turn signal on to tell the driver in front of you to over. And it is highly illegal to pass on the right.
    Mexico also has a Keep Right Except To Pass law although passing on the right is not illegal. Because some Autopistas are in need of resurfacing, many people tend to drive in the left lane which is usually in better condition. They will move to the right however, if a car comes up from behind. Personally, I have never had to pass on the right except in two instances and in both the cars had US plates. Flashing your lights and using your left turn signal is legal I guess. If it isn’t, no one cares.

  6. I drive 60 miles everyday to work. 30 miles and back on a 4 lane highway. No one gets more frustrated than I do with people who do not know or don’t care about the law. In Indiana, the left hand lane is the passing lane. That is all it is for. Yet, there they are each and everyday, riding along at 50mph in the left hand lane. I see older folks do more than that I see young people and usually girls who hog that lane.
    I wonder if Drivers Education (as it used to be called here) in High School even teaches them what the lane is for? Why do people get mad when I flash my lights or blow that horn of mine? I am not the one who looks like a dolt, riding along like a zombie in the left hand lane.
    I spent 10 years as a Reserve LE officer and I swear after asking a thousand people what the left hand lane was for, less than 50% know. Unbelievable.

    • Amen, brother!

      The most aggravating part, to me, is when they see you back there and know you’re trying to get by but refuse to yield. These same people would never just stand (or walk slowly) in the middle of a street and expect everyone to slow to their pace or just wait behind them. But put them in a car…

      • I have often wondered….Someone needs to come up with a 12 volt, LED, scrolling banner about 2″ wide that runs all the way across a rear window on the inside scrolling right to left. (If someone does this they will become RICH.
        It could be programmed by the owner/user to say a variety of things like:
        “Left Lane is PASSING LANE, not Dumbass Lane”
        “If you are being passed on the right you are in the WRONG LANE!”
        “Read your Drivers Manual, page 14, Left Lane for PASSING”

        Watcha Think? Money maker? and you get your point across.

        • Dood, I was just thinking this EXACT thing yesterday. I’ve actually seen a few in Japan. You can get a regular one and just run an inverter for it. I’ve thought about this a lot and always come to the conclusion it’s a bad idea. There would be lots of fights stemming from it for sure. It’s an awesome idea though!

    • Indiana and WI are LLB havens. The only saving grace (driving wise) of both states is that they are less densely populated than NE Illinois. WI or IN plated vehicle in the left lane… I know the chance of them moving over is very slim.

  7. Red rover red rover, clover move over. Speeding tickets are nothing more than “fast taxes”, by which the clover class makes it’s living on. The faster you attempt to accomplish your tasks for the day the higher the potential clover tax. 5mph= free warning, 10 mph= 125 bucks, 20 over, car towed, 30 over all of the above plus attorneys fees, perform same velocity in construction zone = death sentence.

    Great article Eric

  8. I live in Brazil, and I see the same thing some have mentioned here. There’s a 3+3 lane road with a 80 kph (50 mph) limit in the city I live, that is very central to the city. Generally, if I wanna drive faster (~100kph, which is totally reasonable), I end up having to use the right lane, because there’s always some dude on ludes on the left lane. The worst is that thanks to these dudes on ludes, the people who prefer to drive faster typically evolve into assholes who constantly tailgate the car ahead by less than 1 car’s distance, because they have learned that that’s the only way to get the zombies out of the way.

    On a different note, Eric, why do you refer to statists as clovers? Is it because you have a troll called clover?

  9. Yep, slowpokes in the left lane are a pain. But whatever happened to flashing your brights to get ’em out of the left lane? That used to be standard a few decades ago, known to all. Today’s jerks just sit a foot from your bumper, an extremely dangerous practice. (Much worse than the slowpokes they’re trying to get past.) Why not just flash your brights and add a short beep of the horn? Even the dumbest clods will eventually get the idea.

    • Unfortunately, that often only antagonizes them and results in them being even more obdurate about refusing to yield/move over. I no longer even bother. I figure, if the douche is not scanning his mirrors (evident by his not moving over before I have to flash my brights) then there’s no productive purpose to cluing them in to your desire to get by them. They’ll only try to block you in, or speed up to prevent you from passing on the right (then slow down again). So, I just ease in behind them – leaving plenty of space (I never tailgate) and when I have a window to pass, I punch it and move around the dickweed before his dulled senses even realize what I’m doing.

  10. I learned how to drive in 1946, and have a bit of time playing at 200 mph.

    By and large, the high-speed Germans are far better at maintenance than most Americans, particularly as regards tires. The Firestone problems with Ford Explorers were more a maintenance problem than an inherent flaw, IMO, based on our family experience. Safety at speed is, IMO, a tire function.

    So it’s with that sort of thing in mind that I don’t get excited about a “limit” which speaks to road/weather conditions. “Reasonable and prudent” is sufficient–if drivers were indeed reasonable and prudent.

    My primary objection to the 55 mph speed limit, even in its early symbolic period, was the boredom pointed out by Hugh Mannity. Boredom is definitely dangerous.

    I regularly drive the 1,400 miles between the family’s two “micro-empires”. I cruise the right lane (mostly) at 70-ish because of gas-mileage and fuel costs. But I’ve enjoyed some travels where I averaged around 75mph for 900 miles.

    I don’t have any viable answer for what to me seems to be as much as a cultural problem as anything else…

  11. I’m a Brit and a former motorcyclist (had to give it up when my arthritis got bad), so I have a slightly different attitude to speed limits than the (mythical) Average American. I also live in Massachusetts, where on most highways speed limits appear to be more honoured in the breach than the observation. The US interstate system is wonderful. I regularly make journeys of several hundred miles using it.

    Right now I’m driving a Land Rover LR3. A lovely vehicle, and designed to be driven in all sorts of places other than the highway while retaining the ability to be a very comfortable long distance truck. The only problem I have is that the LR3 seems to have a preferred cruising speed of between 85 and 90mph. Unless I drive with a very, very light foot on the little pedal, I find myself going a lot faster than is legal.

    Is it safe? Seems to be. I’ve been driving and riding motorcycles for over 40 years and have driven all over Europe, a good part of the US, and parts of Australia and the Middle East. At a rough guess my total lifetime mileage is well over 750,000 miles. I have yet to get into a major accident of any type, and certainly not one which involved excessive speed. On one occasion, being able to accelerate my way out of trouble saved my life.

    When I’m driving, I drive. I don’t talk on the phone, read the paper, eat, or do any of the other myriad distracting things I regularly see other drivers doing.

    There are times I think that the low US speed limits actually encourage drivers to do things other than drive, because the speeds are so slow they get bored. A journey of 100 miles (which is not really an awful lot on the US interstate) takes about an hour and 3/4 if you’re averaging 60mph, longer if you’re going more slowly. That’s plenty of time to get bored. If nothing’s happening (i.e. traffic’s light and moving steadily) it’s much easier to become inattentive at lower speeds than at higher ones. That’s when accidents happen.

    • @Hugh:

      YES! In fact you bring up the key to the whole argument; it is precisely because of the ridiculous laws that we’ve bred this generation of idiotic drivers.
      As the saying goes–If you build a society FOR fools, you will guarantee a society OF fools.

      On long trips I like to stretch the M5’s legs a bit–it seems to love having the carbon burned off the valves, though I know that’s archaic. I don’t listen to the stereo. I don’t have snacks or drinks–for god’s sake, do we all need to eat every minute of every day? The only electronic distractions are my laser jammer and Valentine. And if conditions are good, let’s just say that most posted limits are too low by about half.

      And yet–I’ve never caused an accident in twenty-five years of driving.

      People are amazingly adaptable. Bring back free highways, and they will snap to attention in less than a year. They’ll forget all about sexting, snacking, and yakking…and get back to their job while driving, which is DRIVING.

    • I too have noticed that when I have to drive extremely slow that I become a worse driver. As you noted, I get bored and my attention wanders. When I am able to drive the speed that I find most comfortable, I am attentive and pleasantly having fun.

      • Amen Reverend King! I couldn’t agree with you more. I must say that early morning driving around Kansas City is stimulating. Lots of cars running an average of 75MPH three abreast and quite a bit of lane changing, passing and snaking will get your blood flowing. Overall, the populace around KC seem to be pretty good drivers too(I know, I know, I’m shocked that I’m even saying it).

        Let me tell you I-435 around KC sure beats that parking lot in Brooklyn they call the Van Wyck Expressway. Bored? Forget that! I may have white knuckles sometimes, but boring it’s not! Yes, actually having to drive will keep you sharp and it is indeed enjoyable.

        • What I find to be one of the most frustrating aspects of driving is not the slow people on the road, for I can understand that not all people have the same abilities. The thing that really gets me is that I am essentially handcuffed because of fear of the police.

          Without the fear of feeding the tax feeders with my hard earned money, it would be a simple thing to pass the rolling obstructions. It is a shame that in this supposed free society driving opens one up to the predation of the state its administrative arm. A simple task such as driving and trying to live ones life is now like playing Russian roulette.

          • I know – and I have some advice: Buy a V1 radar detector (best on the market) and maybe a laser jammer, too. I haven’t had a ticket in years – since I got mine. I’m saved from getting a ticket at least once a week and I now enjoy driving again. Seriously. Get you one

          • A Valentine One (V1) is a must. It is the single best automotive accessory I’ve ever purchased. And I’ve purchased a lot of stuff. You’ll know a cop is around a bend before you even get up to the bend. Truly amazing! I don’t drive without it.

          • A minor nitpick Dom,

            A radar detector only will alert you to the presence of certain radio frequencies. (As when a cop is using C/O radar)

            It is not a cop detector. (Although I am sure you knew that fact.)

          • I think mine has a few different detection frequencies. Laser, Ka, K, and X. Cops can still get you, you’re right. Fortunately most cops leave their radar on and most don’t have laser. Laser is instant on. The only way to catch this ahead of time is if he is shooting vehicles before you.

      • I’ve done a few ‘drive the speed limit’ experiments… usually after getting a ticket and when a stupid law is nearly universally ignored, civil disobedience gets turned on its head. Anyway I started craving a television set and/or a computer to get be through the mind-numbing boredom of 55mph or worse 45mph in some areas. It was the only time I’ve ever used cruise control.

        On the other hand, with all the LLBs and other assorted problem drivers on the roads around here at a reasonable speed is often frustrating.

        • Been there/done that myself – for years, in the DC area. I literally could not take it anymore. We moved. Now we live in a rural area with a much lower population density, which really helps. Because while the same idiots are here, too, there are fewer of them and you can get around them, usually.

          One of the few things about the economic collapse that I am grateful for is that it has checked growth in our area; I was really concerned that we were going to have to pick and move again – to Idaho or some such place.

          • Dom, I used to listen to talk radio, but the neo-con morons irritated me beyond reason. So I started downloading the podcasts at Lew Rockwell to my flash drive. I play them enroute to and from work through the USB input on my stereo. You get intelligent interviews with people like us. No flag waving Lincoln loving war mongers call in showing off their ignorance. With folks like Tom Dilorenzo and Lew himself you get a free education to go along with your entertainment. I highly recommend it.

            • I’m also back to NPR. Left-leaning, true. But at least intelligent left-leaning. The fulminating, tub-thumping eructations of bloated GOP neo-con shills such as Limbaugh and Boorts (sp?) and the rest of them are just insufferable.

              The fambly values shit is especially annoying. They’re so morally bankrupt where it matters – such as opposing theft whether done by an individual or an individual who votes for it – that they are reduced to mouthing bromides and platitudes about “values” … which amounts to, be a cardboard Christian, hate gays and revere fuuuuuuuhhhhhhhtttttball.

  12. I do agree with the article.

    However I would note that here in hilly West Virginia the biggest factor in slowing down speeds on the highway is the ponderous tractor trailers struggling up steep grades. Traffic can be flowing quite comfortably at 75 or 80mph and all of a sudden come to a screeching halt as a couple rigs are grinding uphill at 40mph.

    Better yet is when one tractor trailer tries to pass another one and comes up on an incline. Then both lanes get shut down and a host of cars ends up slamming on their brakes in order to decelerate fast enough to not drive up the rear of the big rigs. This is far more frustrating than the jerk who decides to park it in the left lane at the posted speed limit.

    • Agree.

      Heavy trucks and other slow-moving traffic should stay right, as a rule – especially when the road has grades. As always, it’s a few jerks who spoil it for everyone. I drive (and ride) all kinds of vehicles, everything from high-performance sport bikes to an old truck. When I am hauling stuff in the old pick-up, I do my best to be conscious of traffic behind me, and pull off/over when the truck is having trouble maintaining speed on a grade or I just have a large/unwieldy load and want to take it easy. But every once in awhile, I come up behind someone in a vehicle like that who just doesn’t care that he is forcing everyone else to proceed at 20 MPH below the normal flow of traffic and absolutely won’t pull off/over for anything.

  13. No speed limits? You’re friggin INSANE! You support speeding when most drivers aren’t paying attention… yapping on phones. texting, eating, playing with makeup, etc. Go live in Germany if you can’t handle the posted speed LIMIT!!

    • Lots of hysterics and wild generalizations here…

      You seem to be saying that because some drivers are inattentive, inept, etc. that not only should those drivers who aren’t be treated as though they, too, are inattentive and inept – but also, that the system should continue to be based on coddling inept, inattentive drivers rather than expecting more of them – and punishing them (rather than competent drivers) when they drive inattentively, or dangerously.

      A left lane hog “doing the speed limit” is more of a real traffic hazard than a driver exceeding an under-posted, arbitrarily set speed limit.

      The overall point I was trying to make in my article was that speed limits were higher 60 years ago than they are today, notwithstanding 60 years of advances in vehicle design.

      And also, that one of the the main reasons why our roads are often dangerous – and frustrating – is the refusal of so many people to practice lane discipline and yield to faster-moving traffic.

      The Germans are not that different from us, are they? Yet they manage to deal with unlimited speed Autobahns – without mayhem and carnage everywhere (accident rates there are lower than they are here). Are we not capable of driving at that level, as a society? Should we not even try to do better? Why not?

      • Proper discipline? Yield to law-breakers? You might as well argue everyone in alleys yield to drug dealers because you’re anti-government.

        • “Proper discipline? Yield to law-breakers? You might as well argue everyone in alleys yield to drug dealers because you’re anti-government.”

          res ipsa loquitur

          Look it up.

        • Gil, I’m with Eric; I’m done explaining things to you. I’d say you are a douche bag, but those actually serve a useful purpose. Pull your head out of whatever dark smelly orifice you’ve managed to cram it into and face reality, troll.

          It’s simple: take the train, use the bus, ride a bike (on a bloody bike trail, stay off the road), call a cab or walk. Nightrite go with him. Just stay out off the highways and you’ll be out of the left lane and out of our way; no more problem. Let those of us that know how drive, drive.

          Insofar as 4 bangers go, I’m commuting to the city every day this week (190 miles round trip). My cute little 1.8L Miata hangs right in there with the V6’s and V8’s on the highway at 75 and 80. I just checked my mileage today: 32.8 MPG! And guess what Gil, I passed a bunch of morons like you. Know how I know? I had to pass them in the right lane! Go back to your basement, fire up another hootie and play video games where you belong.

          • Yeah, I know Methyl, clovers NEVER break the law (while anyone is watching that is). The same with a lot of cops; they confiscate beer, booze and dope off teenagers without arresting them (“just a warning this time, don’t let me catch you again”) to get it off the streets. They’d never consume the evidence themselves….

  14. The “pass in the left lane” idea is lost on too many people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people chewing my bumper in the RIGHT-most lane, expecting me to speed up or move over so they can fly on past (often when I’m maintaining the speed limit or better). Sometimes, it’s as if they think the lane rules have switched places. I don’t mind if someone wants me to move to the right, but the intimidation bumper chewing when there are two or three lanes to the left is just too much. (Of course, this often happens because someone is in the second lane doing 5 under the limit. But still, looming in the right-most lane is not kosher.)

    • Agree (and, welcome!)

      Tailgating is egregious. It’s always dangerous (unlike “speeding”) yet cops rarely, if ever, go after tailgaters. It’s easier, I guess, to sit in a cruiser and run radar….

  15. Historical social commentary from an old fart. Americans were taught to stay out of the left lane until 1973. Then it became our patriotic duty to thwart the OPEC Muslim bastards, and drive 55. At least that’s what Jimmy the geek Carter told us. As part of this patriotic fervor the attitude that anyone exceeding the speed limit was a closet OPEC supporter, and not worthy of his citizenship, nor certainly of the left lane of the freeway became the prevailing societal norm. It has continued to this day. The freeways are much more dangerous as a result, though they have become a cash cow for the police state.

    • Thanks for that, PS.

      It’s my impression, too, that things have gotten much worse on this score than they were in the past – probably because we’ve now reached (or passed) a tipping point: Drivers who were taught to drive in the pre-PC, pre-Cloverite America are graying and retiring; meanwhile, whole generations of Clovers have arisen, their deference toward The Law and learned helplessness generously salted with passive aggressive hostility toward others, Squatting in the passing lane and refusing to yield are perhaps the only ways left for these people to assert some degree of control – and they seize it.

      God help us!

    • Nixon’s NMSL was made worse with Carter’s minion Claybrook. In Mark Rask’s book, “American Autobahn” he describes a key piece of the claybrookian mindset. She and those of like mind actually believed that scattering slow drivers across the lanes made things safer because faster drivers had to slow down to salom through them and many times could not get through the rolling road blocks.

      It is so frustrating to drive in Illinois with the LLBs constantly causing traffic jams and rolling road blocks. Honestly the more of them there are the *FASTER* I drive when I am not confined. It is often a requirement to drive faster not to get trapped behind these morons for miles. Faster to make gaps before they are closed. On an empty interstate or a proper keep right environment the drive is so much more relaxed the top speed I reach will usually be lower. But smooth flowing traffic is the last thing that’s desired in this control freak society in which we live.


      PS: American autobahn is an excellent book describing how the US could have the speed limits removed from much of the interstate system.

  16. One of the many things that Clover doesn’t understand is that states that posted speed limits at 70 mph or more experienced a larger drop in their fatality rate than states keeping 65 mph on rural interstate highways. In Montana, when they began posting a 75 mph interstate speed limit and a 70 mph rural speed limit, fatalities doubled on the roads that formerly had NO speed limit. That is because people drove at speeds they were safe and comfortable driving. There was no numeric target.

    Removing speed limits in rural areas is the best thing to do because it removes the politics behind speed limits.

    • Exactly.

      And you know what’s analogous? Gun control (that is “civilian disarmament”). Wherever controls on the possession of firearms by ordinary citizens have been relaxed, crime associated with guns has gone down. The areas where there’s the least “gun control” are the safest – whereas the reverse is equally true.

      It is almost a mathematical axiom.

  17. There’s a wide asphalt two lane nearby, in good conditon, with a posted speed of 60 MPH east of town. The same road is posted 55 west of town. Guess what, average vehicle speeds are 65 – 70 in both speed zones. I see the occaisonal deer collision, but other than that over the last four years accidents have nil. I will say at least one deer collision I know of was by a clover, running the speed limit! Ha, the irony!

    I have to wonder if modern speed limits actually are arbitrary. I am inclined to believe that they are designed to be just low enough that most of the traffic (probably 80% or more) will run 5 to 10 MPH over. Probably 10% will often run faster than that depending on skill, vehicle, conditions, etc. This gives the tax feeders a target rich environment for revenue collection. After all those state and local coffers aren’t getting filled by declining real estate values and Chinese workers. Gotta pick up the slack somewhere….

    • In several cases, the PSLs are arbitrary. The PSL should be set by qualified engineers using sound engineering principles.

      In general, unless there is reason for doing otherwise, this means the PSL will be set at the 85% of the flow of traffic. This would result in a PSL that most people would respect and follow. LEO can focus their attention to the 15% that really stand out from the crowd.

        • Actually Gil, even though you were trying to be a smart-ass , you are correct on how speed limits are supposed to be set. Proper traffic engineering practice is to measure the speed of traffic over a period of time on that section of road in question with no speed controls (signs basically) and then determine the 85th percentile speed, rounding up to the nearest 5 mph.
          BTW Massachusetts just started displaying the following message on the programmable roadside signs – “Left lane for passing only” – so maybe there is still hope! Now if we could just ban all the left-lane bandits from Rhode Island and New Hampshire we could fix our traffic problem!

        • @Gil: so, what do you say to the example set by the German autobahns? The autobahn strikes me as a working example of what Eric is saying.

          • Don’t expect Clover to reply. At least, don’t expect him to respond to your point, or make an intelligent counterpoint. His MO is hit and run. He’ll throw out an emoting non sequitur; then when you call him on it, present facts/logic/reason to demolish his “point,” he simply ignores it and throws out another emoting non sequitur.

            You’d have more luck debating a German Shepard.

          • How about private drivers get on private racktracks to drive their supercars instead of playing chicken with others lives? Then again you and Eric can try to drum up support for very high speed limits that most 4-cylinders can’t do but those with 8 or more cylinders can. Or you, if you don’t like the thought of asking gubmint persmission to go fast speed then break the law and have fake plates or soemthing to evade detection.

          • There are only two excuses I can think of for Gil’s thoughts. Either he is on a fishing trip baiting people to confess to illegal shit, or he is just a fucking idiot. Maybe both! He is a fucking idiot on a fishing trip.

          • In other EES why don’t Eric & co. work together to raise speed limits or advocate for European rules for driving? Nah, that would feel too much like a slave asking a master for permission to do something, amirite?

      • I’ve been arguing for years that we could get rid of speed limits, period if Clovers weren’t in control of everything. A good driver drives within his limits and those of his car (and given conditions, including the road and the weather, etc.) Each of us has a different skill set and comfort level. Speed limits assume everyone operates at the same (usually, low) level. Why should an excellent driver (in a car built to handle it) not be able to drive 90, 100 MPH (or whatever) provided he can do so competently and safely? And shouldn’t the measure of that be whether he is the cause of an accident? If not – if he never causes an accident – then pretty much by definition, he’s a safe driver – irrespective of his speed. Right?

        Clovers, of course, want a system that treats everyone as presumptively guilty – and spits out endless laws and regulations that assume everyone’s inept. Some people can’t handle a car safely at 80, so the speed limit is set at 70 – even if it means 80 percent of the drivers are technically guilty of “speeding” at any given moment – and even though their “speeding” is nothing more than a technical foul, an excuse to hand out tickets (and collect revenue for the government).

        It’s ridiculous.

        Let people exercise judgment – and be held accountable as individuals – instead of inculcating learned helplessness and treating everyone based on the lowest common denominator.

    • That’s right, Clover – though the term I’d use is unsafe, incompetent drivers.

      Once again, you put your ignorance on display.

      It is basic driving etiquette – and a basic principle of safe driving – to yield to faster-moving traffic, whether you are “doing the speed limit” or not.

      Further, the fact is that in almost every case, the posted speed limit is absurd. It’s not a limit in the sense of being the maximum safe rate of travel for that road; rather, most speed limits are just arbitrary numbers that don’t even correlate with the average speed of traffic. Thus, a person who is “doing the limit” is probably driving more slowly than most of the traffic around (and behind) him. To do that in the left/passing lane is obnoxious, ignorant and unsafe.

      Just like you.

        • Gil, we usually determine the overuse of recreational chemicals by on one’s failure to engage in critical thinking, their inability to form coherent reponses to logical arguments or their incapacity use the language articulately. Which brings us to these pertinent questions: Did Gil overdose on something he did as good a job “concocting” as he does formulating his responses here? Or were all of his parents’ children born anencephalic?

        • “how’s to tell you how much weed you handle or what fun chemicals you shouldn’t be concocting with your chemistry set”

          res ipsa loquitur

          Is it even conceivable that you’ll ever post an intelligent (or even coherent) response?

      • Eric don’t feed the bears. He’s such an obvious asshole; I won’t dignify it with “sociopath” because that implies too high a level of function. He’s just a garden variety jerk with no real cognitive skills of his own, but a vindictive need to goad his betters into fits of explanation.

        Pearls before swine. Ban the bastard and pick a new Clover for us to dissect; perhaps the next one will be educable. This one–no.

    • Some people think they have the right to impede the flow of traffic. (They do not)

      Many states have a keep right except when passing provision.
      (for example: NJ 39:4-82. Keeping to right)

      If states would enforce this provision more, I think it would encourage lane discipline and make driving safer (and better) for all.

        • No, Clover – wrong again.

          Impeding is whenever a slower-moving vehicle fails to yield.

          The far left lane is for overtaking and passing; irrespective of your speed or the speed limit, driving etiquette and safe driving practice says yield. Period.

          As we’ve come to expect, you spout your ignorant opinions rather than base your comments on facts.

          Try reading up on a subject before you commence typing. It might result in your coming across more favorably than you have so far.

    • Eric
      i am from Birmingham AL and fully familiar with the concept of Left-Lane hogs which you describe perfectly.
      However you use a term, since I live here, that I find unfamiliar, in the third from last paragraph.
      You say, they hog waits to late to move over, or even “put on his signal”./
      What does “put on his signal mean?”

      (OK I really know; AL Code 39A has 40B which REQUIRES travel in the lane closest to the curb, and another paragraph that requires use of signal. Just try to find a cop enforcing it.)
      Thanks Big Al Brown

    • So, Gil, you’d rather kill people on the highway just to force everybody to conform to your opinions? Perhaps you should shift your ego to Park. I move over even if I think the person coming up is driving too fast; I’m not (like you) imbued with the belief that I’m God and get to take life when something displeases me.

      • Who’s emoting now? God bless fast drivers doing well over the speed limit and expect others to yield. After all, only Randian can afford supercars and they should get dibs on rightaway and everyone should salute one when they pass you.

        • In other words, you will stubbornly cling to the left lane, consequences be damned.

          What is this “supercars” nonsense?

          • He’s a tool… some of us think maybe one of those deliberate trolls who gets paid by governments to come to sites like this one to disrupt/post mindless, gratuitously argumentative gibberish. He won’t respond to a direct question or acknowledge/address a substantive point made. He just shifts gears and posts more emoting gibberish. Best just to ignore him. I let his stuff get through solely to show how bankrupt the opposition is!

          • Yeah right because you want to treat laws as suggestions? How about a Wild West scenario – no laws just pistols and instead of police just undertakers taking away dead bodies. You don’t certain laws and whine about it.

      • Gil thinks his freedoms include infringing on the freedoms of others. It’s typical clover narrow mindedness. I like that term “self appointed pace car”.

        • I would have a small correction with your statement. Gil doesn’t believe in freedom. He believes in license and permission. When Gil is acting as a “self appointed pace car”, he is saying that he does not give you PERMISSION to go faster than he thinks you should go. License and permission are characteristics of the mentality of statists the world over. Gil is no different.

          • Where do ya’ll suppose this type of behavior is rooted? Mental retardation, cultural influence, personal problems, maybe all the above? Or maybe I/we are crazy to even believe in freedom? On a side note, I am about to completely give up tobacco products. Not because they are bad for me, but because the tax on a tin of Skoal is off the charts and I’m sick of paying it.

            • A lot of it is conditioning. I started on this before, in an earlier post and I realize it may get me into hot water, but – consider religious belief:

              Religious orientation – religious belief itself – is to a great extent a consequence of whether you were raised by religious people, in a religious environment. Most people are religious; hence most children are raised by religious people. There is great societal pressure to “believe” – or at least pretend to. Hence, religious belief persists. A motto attributed to the Jesuits runs thus: Give us a child for the first ten years and he will be ours for life.

              Same with regard to what we call Cloverism. People have been bred by conditioned parents, who then condition their offspring… who live in a world that is Cloverite and rewards and encourages Cloverism…. The liberty outlook is rare because most people are raised by Clovers, taught by Clovers… and so on.

              Yes, we have free will – but to deny the strong influence of our background and also our heredity is like trying to add 2 + …. to get a accurate sum.

          • I believe it has something to do with the desire to control as well as a kind of morbid fanaticism. By fanaticism I don’t mean that he is crazy or deranged (at least not entirely), but that he is like your typical sports fan. The state is his team, and he wants to be on the winning side. By being an apologist for the state, he fulfills his desire to control and gets to be a part of the team.

            We see this kind of the thing all the time with the typical American flag waving. Many of these flag wavers may rail against various government programs, the same way a sports fan may rail against his team for a bungled play, but at the end of the day, he still has loyalty to the team and follows their every move.

            While some can be cured of this mental aberration, I am afraid for many (and Gil in particular), it is a terminal case.

          • I said this because of travelling at very fast speed equals putting other lives at danger as the margin for errors double when you’re doing double the speed. It’s up there with drunk-driving – you’re operating under a sedative where your reaction times and ability to realise changed situation are way down. Yes you all want to endanger others but as no one gets hurt it’s “no harm, no foul”.

            • Clover, as usual, you leave out key elements. If people pay attention to their surroundings, if they use their mirrors and practice lane discipline, then “very fast speed” is not a problem. The German Autobahn example proves the point. It is undeniable. The problem is not “very fast speed.” It is inept, careless, oblivious drivers. Period. And the broader issue is whether the system ought ot be dumbed down (endlessly) to accommodate the inept, careless and oblivious drivers – which means, punishing those who are not – or trying to do something about the inept, careless and oblivious drivers and thus, leave the competent, attentive drivers alone.

              I know this is a concept that will never penetrate yo’ haid, but I thought I’d try, though why I bother I’ll never understand….

          • Look at the bright side of TSA on the streets. We’ll save on the prostate exam trips. Now they’ll come to us. You all know early detection is the key!

          • Dom, take what both Eric and Edward have stated and combine the two: a major portion of the problem is the conditioning to belong to a group or team. The group may be political, religious, social or academic; that doesn’t matter. You can belong to more than one. The important thing is you “belong” to a group that can be isolated, named, categorized and controlled.

            You have undoubtedly read that “people go mad in herds.” Why? Humans are social and most people are either herd or pack animals. Whatever group(s) they have been conditioned to accept as their social unit(s) are where they will gravitate to. The more docile will be a part of the artsy/academic crowd. The more aggressive, the military/police team. The more fiscally oriented, the business/financial group.

            In a strict, fundamentalist Christian family, you will be raised to believe that certain behaviors are morally wrong. You should understand that each individual has a free will and should voluntarily engage in self control based on that teaching. But the majority will acquiesce to the conclusion that “there oughta be a law” for this or that. If we can just save one soul…..

            Never mind what Christ actually taught or that a lot of other things have been glossed over and misconstrued in the bible by organized religion. If you dissent, you are a heretic. I assure you, there are plenty of people right here today that would stand by and watch as I and any number of us that post on this site were burned at the stake.

            The same thing applies in politics, education, finance, science, media, etc.; depart from the accepted norms, challenge longstanding dogma or “legitimate” authority and you risk censure, excoriation and banishment from the group.

            The point is, group-think is easier and feels safer for the herd. If you are an inquisitive individual, the group may see you as “lone wolf” and a threat. If you go along to get along, the group will not only overlook your transgressions against those that are outside your group, but may actively encourage them.

            Which brings to mind the TSA VIPR operation Edward posted about. This is a product of the military / police group conditioned to believe that a nation is best secured with a strategy and tactics they have spent the last four (or even 30) years employing in Iraq and Afghanistan. If they cull you from the herd on I-70 for a little one on one and you dissent….well we all know what will happen to you. So those of us that have chosen not to fly, board a train or even a bus, had better become Amish right quick.

            Here’s what Dr. Ron Paul has to say about it: http://lewrockwell.com/paul/paul775.html Welcome to the prison that America is fast becoming

    • I live in the South now and these stupid rednecks are the worst. It is obvious there is no drivers Ed in the schools as
      first of all they think it is their right to drive forever in the left lane and mirrors, if they have them is for putting make-up on and half think it’s cool to text while driveing their bimmer at light speed. These idiots are a menace whenever they leave the south because they don’t have a clue
      about driveing in the rest of the world. They stop in the middle of the intersection to talk to some other clodhopper they haven’t seen in a day and they stop in the middle of the road if they are lost (they cann’t even read a map). God, don’t ever ask them for directions as they have no idea as to north east south or west. No wonder they lost the war between the states. They also have reinactors… How many times do they want to loose?

      • It’s not just the South, unfortunately… I’ve been all over the country and bad driving (sloppy, inattentive, rude, reckless) is a general problem. In no state is there more than minimal skills testing or training prior to license issue – and little, if any, attempt to get the really awful drivers off the road. If anything, these awful drivers – the left lane hogs, the wanderers, the tailgaters – are encouraged because they only thing that seems to matter to our system is “speeding.” You can be a superb driver; never have caused an accident in 30-plus years of driving – but get two or three tickets for “speeding” and watch what happens to your insurance rate. Meanwhile, the dude plodding along at 62 MPH in the far left lane of the Interstate is regarded as being a “safe driver” because he never, ever gets ticketed for anything.


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